The National Plan for Scotland's Islands

The National Islands Plan provides a framework for action in order to meaningfully improve outcomes for island communities. This replaces the proposed plan published in October 2019.

Implementation and Measurement of the National Islands Plan

For the Plan to lead to meaningful, positive and sustainable change there needs to be a gradual progress of ownership, monitoring and accountability. Island communities need to feel that the Plan reflects their voices and their vision. That means raising awareness of the Plan and its objectives and supporting them to take ownership of it.

To ensure that the Plan is inclusive, island communities should be kept informed of progress towards its delivery. The statutory provisions in the Islands (Scotland) Act 2018 provide for annual reports on progress by Scottish Ministers, and a review every five years – potentially leading to its revision.

Accountability is also key. Island communities need to be able to challenge Scottish Government constructively if they feel that implementation of the Plan is lagging or no action is being taken altogether.

The Scottish Government is committed to making all this happen. 

We will also develop an Implementation Route Map that addresses each of the 13 Strategic Objectives and the commitments listed in the Plan. The Route Map will set out how we intend to evaluate and monitor progress, including through outcome-focussed indicators based on the National Performance Framework and the Sustainable Development Goals.

Some of the commitments will be achieved in the short to medium term; others will require a longer period for delivery – some even beyond the lifespan of this Plan. Indicators will accompany the actions identified to deliver the objectives outlined in the Plan – with clear timescales, budgets and partners identified.

Care is being taken to develop indicators which will demonstrate if desirable outcomes are bing achieved for island communities. We will consult discretely on the Implementation Route Map and indicators. 

Our approach seeks to ensure that evidence based decisions and policy are made. That requires good data. Currently, there is a lack of robust disaggregated socio-economic data at the island level, particularly publishable data.

“Avoid tick-box measurement which only services the tickers.”
(Consultation participant, Arran)

Better local data is key to understanding the specific challenges facing island communities, both in terms of demographics and economic development. This is important in assessing the effectiveness of policy measures taken so far to address these challenges; informing where more targeted interventions may be required; and responding to the evolving needs of island communities.

The Scottish Government alone is not in a position to deliver all of the commitments that will improve outcomes for our island communities. We will continue to reach out and work with island leaders and a wide range of relevant stakeholders in the development of the Implementation Route Map of the Plan, with particular attention given to local authorities and their respective local public services.

The development of the Implementation Route Map will commence immediately upon the formal adoption of the Plan by Parliament. In the first phase, we will undertake a stakeholder mapping exercise for each of the Plan’s outcome areas, specific Strategic Objectives and commitments. In the second phase, we will organise workshops, where possible, to discuss and agree the actions linked to each objective followed by tailored work aimed at the development of indicators capable of effectively measuring progress in meeting that specific objective. The third phase will include visits to island communities who will act as focus groups for the actions and the indicators suggested. Nonetheless, representatives from island communities will also be included in the earlier phases of the development of the Implementation Route Map and on the new National Islands Plan Governance Group. The fourth and final phase will be the publication of the Implementation Route Map by spring 2020 that will complement the National Islands Plan approved by Parliament.

“Listen to the people in EACH community. No two island communities are the same, even within the same island group. We often have the best solution to our own unique problems, but we MUST have legislation and funding to allow us to help ourselves.”
(Consultation participant Sanday, Orkney)

Strategic Objective 13

To support effective implementation of the National Islands Plan we will:

  • Establish a robust process to ensure the timely publication of a detailed Implementation Route Map setting out clear actions with defined responsibilities for action and timescales to support the delivery of the National Islands Plan.
  • Develop indicators applicable to each Strategic Objective in collaboration with Scottish Government agencies, local authorities, island communities and relevant island socio-economic actors based on the SMART criteria and building on the National Performance Framework and Sustainable Development Goals.
  • Host a series of island-based focus groups workshops, to discuss and agree the specific actions linked to each of the 13 Strategic Objectives in the Plan.
  • Review the availability, usefulness of, and the wider barriers to, island level data both at an individual island level, groups of islands and consider the creation of a “Scottish Islands” data level in order to better understand the challenges faced by island communities.
  • Create a Young Islanders Network constituted by young people from all Scottish islands that will have a consultative role in the implementation of the National Islands Plan to ensure that the delivery of the Plan fully considers the interests and priorities of young people.
  • Establish a National Islands Plan Governance Group to ensure close monitoring of the Implementation Route Map. This group will oversee the delivery of the National Islands Plan and feedback on progress to the Islands Strategic Group and other interested parties.
  • Work with island communities to ensure that the Plan is widely promoted and understood by all sectors of society.



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